India’s famous Holi festival, or Festival of Colors, is coming to a close. While the length and exact date of the festival may vary slightly from one region to the next, the bulk of the celebration is drawing to a close. The festival is meant to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is a two day celebration which commences with a bonfire celebration and concludes with the playful practice of covering one another with different colors through the use of powders and water balloons filled with colored water.
The festival itself is very ancient, but there were some modern twists to it this year. The Google search engine web page featured a Holi doodle that appears plain and dull at first before bursting into an array of colors.
“Holi coincides with the beginning of Spring, and for many it’s an opportunity to indulge in the bright, colorful festivity of the new season,” Google said. “Our Doodle honors this tradition, and all those celebrating on this joyous day.”
There was also a notable breach in tradition. More than 1,000 widows gathered in the courtyard of an ancient temple in the city of Vrindavan to celebrate Holi. Widows are traditionally exempt from the Festival of Colors in addition to all other religious festivals as it is customary for them to wear white and retire to lives of quiet worship. Aid group Sulabh International has been organizing Holi celebrations since 2013 in an effort to bring change the tradition of ostracizing widows.
“Their participation in Holi symbolizes a break from tradition, which forbids a widow from wearing a colored sari, among many other things,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, the head of Sulabh International.